This morning we traveled to Roman ruins in Zalau. The ruins date back to 157 AD, and it is an amazing sight to see. So amazing that Marvin pulled out his iPhone to take the first pictures he would take on the whole trip. They are still in the process of excavating the ruins, and we actually saw archeologists digging and mapping their finds. Historical sights in Romania are not like the ones you would find in the United States. You don’t pay an entrance fee to get in. There are also no souvenirs or snacks to purchase – grin! And, there is are very few signs detailing what you’re seeing so I have some research to do to fully understand all that we saw.
On Tuesday evening, the guys and gals split up to travel to two different churches. The guys went to Simleu to Pastor Don’s church were they led men’s Bible study with all of the pastors from Maranatha Missions. The guys said they were a tough group – asking hard questions about the Bible. Marvin said Jeff did an amazing job of responding, and they were not able to stump him. No surprise there!
Laura, KeLe, and I traveled to Cha Cha’s church in Simpetru for women’s BIble study. It began at 7:30 pm because many of the women are involved in the harvesting of crops so their days are long. When we arrived at 7:15 pm, Rodica had already opened the church doors, and they were ready to begin. You could see the anticipation on their faces – Bible study just for them! We had 15 total, but this is the amazing part. Three of the “women” were little GIRLS! Their names were Mara, Denisa, and Andrea. They sat with the women, and they were so attentive. Wait to you read below to find out more about them!
We opened Bible study by telling them how excited we were to spend time with them just like we do back in our home church with the Wildly Blessed Women. Well, we didn’t exactly tell them, Dena (Cha Cha’s daughter) did. And let me tell you, not only is she absolutely adorable, but the girl knows her English. She never missed a beat, and y’all all know how fast I can talk.
We began, and they sang two songs for us. They lifted the voices – humble, yet boldly, in praise to God. Then Laura and I led them in Amazing Grace. Their sweet Romanian joined together with our English in one accord. It was beautiful!
Next, we did introductions. What a treat to get to know each of these women’s names and to hear about their families. I was just grinning from ear to ear thinking, “These women are just like my girlfriends back home.” Yes we are separated by major cultural differences and great geographical distance, but let me tell you this. Girlfriends are girlfriends – no matter the differences or distances. It was pure blessing to share in their lives!
Next, KeLe gave her testimony, and it was priceless to see the faces of the women as they intently listened and then joined in praising God for His mighty work of redemption in KeLe’s life. There were more than a few tears. Like I said, girlfriends are girlfriends!
I taught our lesson from 2 Kings 4:1-7, the story of the widow’s oil. And the most beautiful thing happened as I taught. Every time I looked up, I saw the faces of these precious women, absolutely soaking up every word, hungry for God, unashamedly and desperately seeking Him. I will never forget their faces. Never. Here they were, exhausted from a long day of hard labor like most of us don’t know; living in conditions that we can’t imagine; barely scraping by to make ends meet; doing everything by hand; wasting nothing because there is so little… yet they weren’t focused on any of that. They just wanted more Jesus. They just wanted more Jesus. God just poured His spirit out in great abundance, and any language barrier was completely removed. We were just girlfriends. Girlfriends who love Jesus and love each other. It was beautiful!
Laura and I sang another song, and then they sang for us again. As they sang, I walked among them, laying hands on them and praying for them. Our tears mingled, and our hugs brought great joy.
It was fast approaching 9 pm, so I told them we would close in prayer, and I encouraged them to grab the hand of someone sitting near them. Normally I would have had them circle up, but in the very tiny church, the pews seemed to make that an impossibility. But God wouldn’t have it, and they wouldn’t either. Those women were out of their seat instantly, “circling” up, clasping the hands of the girlfriends on either side, and ready to pour their hearts out to God in prayer. Our voices once again lifted together… in need, yet in joy, thanksgiving, peace, and hope! We sang the chorus of Alleluia… there are no words big enough for that, but I know without a doubt that our heavenly Father looked down with a big smile on His face. His daughters.
And, it didn’t end there. We brought out the scarves and what fun they had. They absolutely loved them, and they were so cute having their pictures made.
We hugged and kissed. And hugged and kissed. And told each other we loved one another. And hugged and kissed. And cried more tears. And hugged and kissed. Laura, KeLe, and I soaked in the blessings, and those women just poured them out. We loved on them with all we had, and we all left full. FULL!
I’m pretty sure we would have been there all night except Cha Cha starting honking the horn. Literally. We loaded up the van with as many women as we could possibility stuff in. You see, those women still had to walk home in the dark. I’m sure they still had chores to do at home. But they weren’t about to miss out on a minute of time in God’s presence. We weren’t either!
I want you to meet each one of them:
Aurica: Older woman with two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She went home with a scarf from KeLe.
Florica: Older woman with one daughter, two granddaughters, and one great grandson. When she told us about her family, she said, “They are all Christians, and I thank God for that!” Nancy Post, she loved the scarf from you.
Cornelia: She said she has a “loving husband,” three daughters, and a three-year-old grandson, and she praised God for all of them. Cornelia had the sweetest smile! Cornelia loved the scarf from Amanda Hartman.
Paulina: Precious widow whose husband died when he was only 37. She has one son and two grandsons. Her daughter died several years ago from cancer. Paulina gave the best hugs and kisses, always with her eyes full of tears. Jean Thorn, thank you for the warm scarf you gave for Paulina. She loved it!
Carolina: Well, this precious woman is one of the widow’s we delivered food to the day before, so we’d already fallen in love with her. When she introduced herself, she said she was Carolina, North Carolina. Everyone just laughed. She was the life of the party. She’s also the grandmother of the precious little girl I’d held in church the night before. Carolina has four children and two granddaughters. She loved the scarf she received from Daneya Meyer.
Andrea: Adorable little blonde; only 12 years old and in the 7th grade. Her parents are not Christians, yet Andrea is at church every time the door is open. Kelley, she loved the scarf from you! Please pray for Andrea’s family to know Jesus.
Mara: Another of our wee ones! Mara is in 1st grade. She came to kids club the day before and had the cutest ponytail! Mara has a 15-year-old brother. Her mom is Marinella (Florine’s sister). Mara loved the pink scarf that I brought.
Denisa: Precious 5th grader with an adorable little five-year-old brother we met in kids club. Denisa is another one who is in church every time the doors are open, and she always brings her little brother. Denisa’s parents are not Christians, and she is terribly shy, yet she showed up for women’s Bible study. How awesome is that? Micah Allred, thank you for the scarf you sent for Denisa.
Eleanor: She stole my heart the first time I laid eyes on her! Gorgeous woman who is mother of two children. She is a teacher/tutor for the village children. She sang EVERY song – our English ones and the Romanian ones. Her eyes positively shine with the love of Jesus! Eleanor is a cancer survivor, and she has faced many struggles. Her husband is not a Christian, and Eleanor is persecuted by her husband and his family for attending church. She has accepted Christ as her Savior, but she has not followed through with baptism. We must pray for her strength and perseverance. She loved the scarf from Martha Fleming!
Aurelia: Another one I feel in love with instantly! First because she wore a polka dot scarf on her head, and I’m a woman who loves polka dots, but secondly because she could sing louder than anyone else in the church! She was not afraid to praise God! She was so happy to share that all of her family members are Christians. She has a son and daughter and two grandchildren. Shari Westerfeld, thank you for the scarf you sent for Aurelia.
Delia: A constant smile was on Delia’s face, and she, too, gave great hugs! She is married and has one son who is 21. She has such a happy personality and blesses you instantly with her joy. She was thrilled with the scarf from Amanda Torbert.
Hortensia: This precious little widow opened her home for the first church in Simpetru. Church was held in her house for many years before actual church building was ready. She proudly shared that she accepted Christ as her Savior in 1981. She has two daughters and one son, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She is one of the most humble women we met! Cathy Jacobs, thank you for the scarf for Hortensia.
Veronica: Another sweet widow! She is Aurelia’s (polka dot scarf) mom, and she’s ever bit as precious. When I told her I loved her, she told me “I love you” right back… and in English! She was so excited to receive a new scarf from Petra McNamara.
Marinela: This is Mara’s mom and Florine’s sister. She is spunky! When we took our group picture, she and i ended up in the back. She patted the pew and motioned for me to stand up on the pew with her, so we did – giggling all the while! She’s been married to a “beautiful” husband – don’t you just love that?! – for 17 years, and she has a son in addition to Mara. Nancy Post, she loved the scarf from you.
Rodica: An incredible cook, a humble servant, a heart of gold! Rodica is clearly the informal leader among the women at church. She is the one who opens and closes the church doors every time. She and Florine have a beautiful story about how they came to know Christ. When Rodica sings, her face positively shines for God! God impressed upon my heart to tell Rodica that He wants to use her to lead women’s ministry in her church and that she should not feel unworthy. I shared that message with her, and I hope you will join me in praying for her to be obedient to God’s call. Nancy Post, thank you for one of the many scarfs you sent. Rodica loved the animal print one!
Lina: This is Rodica’s mom. She was not able to attend because she has a broken arm, but we met her at Rodica’s house. What a sweetheart! In addition to Rodica, she has another daughter who is also saved, but her two sons are not. She loved the scarf from Cindye Foster.
Lidia: She was not at church because she is ill, and her husband is suffering from cancer. Lidia is a Christian, but her husband is not and neither are her three grown children. Erin McNamara, thank you for the scarf and your prayers for Lidia.
Maria: She is married and has two adult children. She is the only Christian in her family. We did not get to meet her, but her girlfriends were quick to say we needed to pray for her. They took home a scarf for Maria from Samantha Foss.
Julia: We met Julia when we delivered food on the prior day. She has has four or five children (Cha Cha wasn’t sure) and they are living in extreme poverty. Julia is not a Christian, but the women of the church are praying for her, and they wanted to bring her a scarf.
Can you tell we absolutely fell in love with these women? We went with the intention of blessing them, but they blessed us beyond measure. We left with hearts overflowing with joy and thanksgiving for a loving God who gave us Romanian wildly blessed women that we will not ever forget!
We leave for Cluj-Napoca in the morning, and from there we will begin our travels home. We covet your prayers for the Romanian people we met, served, and fell in love with. We also ask for your prayers for traveling mercy.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV